From Intern to CTO – An interview with 10gen’s Eliot Horowitz

April 17, 2013 in 10gen, Coding, Community Internship, Guest Post, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, MongoDB, Networking, Pictures, Slideshow, Technology

It’s one of the many reasons I love the working culture at 10gen; where else would you find the CTO of the company happily sitting down to chat to the intern?

Eliot Horowitz, co-founder and CTO of 10gen, knows all too well the perks and pitfalls of intern life. Though now head of a 75-person engineering team, Eliot began his professional life when he was 19 years old, when he undertook a summer internship with DoubleClick, a company co-founded by Dwight Merriman, 10gen’s Chairman and fellow co-founder.


Before he jetted back to New York, I had the chance to ask Eliot about his time as an intern, and to enquire about any advice he would offer prospective and current interns of today:

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Welcome To Miami – 10gen All Company Meeting

March 8, 2013 in 10gen, Afterhours, Community Internship, Conferences, Intern Guide, Intern Training, MongoDB, Networking, Personal, Pictures

An Intern Goes Snorkelling

Just a over a  month ago I was catching my flight back to rainy London after a week in Miami. The 10gen All Company Meeting, and the mixture of work, sunshine, sea, sand and new friends afforded me one of the most enjoyable and eye opening experiences of my life. 

The concept behind an all-company meeting, especially for a growing company like 10gen which boasts an ever-increasing global presence, is to bring together all staff in one place for an opportunity to share new initiatives, company victories, upcoming challenges,  highlight employee accomplishments which reinforce the company’s values and culture and, vitally, unite the team around a common sense of purpose.

As an intern, the meeting allowed me to understand my placement company in more depth and to finally put faces to the names of those I interact with on a daily basis via email. It was great to be able to talk at length with members of the team in different departments, and to find out exactly what their jobs entailed – I was overawed by the enthusiasm and dedication I witnessed from all areas of the company. It forced me to think long and hard about where I’d like to be in 5 years time, and how I could use my degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Bath to forge a career path about which I would feel just as passionate and empowered by my work as those I met in Miami.

Of course, there was a huge amount of silly fun to be had too. The annual team building challenge did not disappoint, as we were tasked with building Lego sumo robots. Really.


I was in a great team (though rather light on the engineers) whose robot, named LegoLass, came in at a nifty second place. Our robot’s special move won it particular support from the crowd, and earned it the nickname ‘Humper the HR Violation’ – I’ll leave that to your imaginations.

There’s not much more I can write without potentially violating company privacy policies, so I’ll leave you with some photos from my time in Miami. – Now A Featured Blog

February 12, 2013 in Afterhours, Community Marketing, Introduction, Networking, Personal, Slideshow, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Technology


I am happy to announce that has been selected as a Featured Publisher by Shareaholic –  the leader in making content discovery & sharing on the web. Look out for appearing in their Careers Channel as of tomorrow!

The ‘D’ word – Dissertation Planning

January 9, 2013 in Afterhours, Community Internship, Dissertation, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction, Slideshow, University of Bath


As much as I’d like it to, my internship with 10gen can’t go on forever — and as 2013 rushes onwards, my return to university creeps ever closer.

This can only mean one thing; the dreaded dissertation. 

It may not seem like the most attractive prospect whilst also working a fulltime job (can anyone here say ‘exhausted‘?), but there is a lot to be said for laying the foundations of your undergraduate dissertation whilst on placement — giving yourself as much time as possible to work on your project and thus reducing your workload on returning to your studies.

So what can you do? 

    • BE REALISTIC: This cannot be stressed enough. Take an honest look at the time you have to complete your project and allocate a realistic amount of time to each of these steps, some of which will obviously take longer than others. Don’t be disheartened or overwhelmed if some take longer than you were expecting — the most important thing is that you keep your focus.
    • TALK TO YOUR COMPANY: If you’re lucky enough to have a highly supportive placement company, why not talk to them about allocating some time towards working on your dissertation?
    • THINK TOPIC: Begin by thinking about a focused and manageable topic that you know will be interesting, original and achievable.
    • THINK TEXTS: Undertake some preliminary reading and research to establish that there is appropriate source material upon which you can draw. Why not make an Amazon wishlist of relevant textbooks?
    • GET IN CONTACT: Contact your university department for guidance on whether your topic is a suitable area of research, and enquire as to which staff members in your department may be most knowledgeable on the subject.
    • GET READING: Once you’ve received the go ahead, you can begin your reading in earnest. Work towards completing the bulk of your research into your chosen topic, making sure that you manage your information effectively and retain all the relevant details you will need for your bibliography etc. I know this is a pain, but when you’re near final hand in and discover you’re not having to panic about missing references, you’ll be thankful you did it.
    • GET PLANNING: Take some time to work on a semi-detailed plan of your dissertation — identify each major section which you want it to contain. Remember to keep the final word length in mind, and perhaps even allocating a rough word length to each section, though this will probably change as your dissertation progresses.

Reiterating the need for a realistic and achievable plan, this is where it may be advisable to slow down the dissertation prep; enabling students to make progress on their final year dissertation without detrimentally affecting their placement.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘that’s enough for now‘.

Placement Tutors, Chocolate Biscuits and T-shirt Ties

December 17, 2012 in 10gen, Community Internship, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Interview advice, Pictures, Slideshow, University of Bath

Today a little piece of Bath came to London.

As part of any University of Bath ‘sandwich’ degree, students are allocated a placement tutor, whose role it is to provide a range of support, advice and guidance to help placement students.

It was my turn. My tutor popped into the 10gen London offices to make sure everything was going smoothly for all parties, and that I wasn’t being held captive or sold into slave labour.

Oddly, although everything has been going swimmingly here during my internship, I was nervous. When you’re fully immersed in a placement year, it’s easy to become disassociated with university life, forgetting the routine of tests and assessments that go with it, as well as the mountains of paperwork. To be suddenly reminded of it was strangely unnerving.

I needn’t have worried however, as upon welcoming my tutor to the offices I found myself greeting a warm and easygoing Clare Wilson, Faculty Placements Manager.

From the off, Ms Wilson noted that my placement was different to the majority of my university classmates’; many find positions working for larger companies, accustomed to taking on interns and thus having clearly defined and fixed roles for their interns.

10gen, on the other hand, offers a true ‘start-up’ experience; all hands on deck, everyone mucking in and the chance to gain experience in a wide range of capacities. During my time here I have worked on projects with marketing, sales, outside companies and, of course, the community team. Each time I gain a fresh perspective and accrue new skills to help me in the future, as well as having the chance to work with a wide variety of wonderfully interesting people. It’s certainly something I love about my internship, and can recommend to anyone thinking of interning for a start-up.

One issue which was driven home pretty hard during the meeting was the importance of prepping for final year – numerous people, including my head of year, my line manager, former students, my placement tutor and even my parents have tried to press upon me the importance of using placement year constructively — in particular to prepare for dissertation writing. The reiteration of this fact was yet another reminder to prioritise this in the new year.

After an hour of nibbling on chocolate biscuits and chatting to our Community Marketing Manager, James Chesters, and 10gen’s EMEA Engineering Director, Alvin Richards, Ms Wilson seemed satisfied that I had found my perfect internship, and went on her way — like some kind of academic Mary Poppins, flitting her way between placement students in need all over Europe.

If nothing else, catching up with my placement tutor reinforced in my mind just how lucky I am to have landed such a great placement, with such fantastic and supportive people. Not only are my colleagues interested in ensuring I get the most out of my time working at 10gen, but also that I make time for my academic studies and am in good stead for returning to university next year. Bring it on!

James even wore a tie for meeting my tutor


Insight Of An Intern: Preparing For A Job Interview

November 14, 2012 in Community Internship, Community Marketing, CV advice, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Interview advice, Slideshow

Having been chosen from potentially huge numbers of applicants, you’ve reached the interview stage – congratulations!

Those few days before any interview can be a nerve-wracking time, so it can be difficult to channel your time into doing anything constructive. However, preparation is the key to any interview – though many people don’t actually realise this.

Preparing for an interview is vital for three main reasons:

1 – It helps you answer questions clearly and concisely. Although you can’t second guess every question you might be asked, if you are prepared you can tailor them to fit or at least draw upon them for inspiration.

2 – For your own confidence. If you’re prepared, your body language and demeanor will show it. For both interviewees and interviewers, there’s nothing more soul-sapping than an interview in which you have to drag ill-prepared and under-researched answers out.

3 – To show willing. The interview allows your potential employer a first opportunity to judge whether you’re right for the job, and showing you’re keen and organised enough to do your prep work is a big plus on any employer’s tick list.

With this in mind, the following article will provide you with some key pieces of advice for making sure you walk  into your interview room armed with as much relevant knowledge and confidence as possible.

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4th IOAI Article On The Huffington Post

September 28, 2012 in Huffington Post

A fourth article from has been published by the Huffington Post. 

I’m currently absolutely swamped with exciting new webinars, community tone reports and preparing for the GOTO Aarhus conference, but will hopefully be getting a new post up next week or sooner.

Surviving Unpaid Internships

September 17, 2012 in Community Internship, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction, London Living, Personal

[Don’t forget to take part in the Internship Poll!]

It’s a tough time to be an intern at the moment. Though the number and range of internships in the UK have increased considerably in the last few years, a staggering 1 in 3 interns are working for nothing. Zilch. Nada.

A report by the TUC warned that many employers have sought to take advantage of students’ desperation to find work in the economic downturn and see interns as a useful source of free labour (though often this is breaking UK minimum wage and employment law).

Though an unpaid internship may be feasible for a lucky handful of students, for most of us the prospect is an impossible and undesirable one; and rightly so. True, you will be gaining a great deal from doing an internship, but it works both ways – as an intern you are contributing time, knowledge and skills to the company and so deserve to be treated as an employee. In fact, the prospect of a company (NGOs and charities excluded) deciding not to pay interns raises numerous flags for me personally, as I’d worry about the value and respect placed upon any intern who ended up there.

But if you can swing it financially, is an unpaid internship worth it? Probably not.  

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Community Managing – What’s It All About?

September 3, 2012 in 10gen, Afterhours, Community Internship, Community Marketing, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, Introduction,, MongoDB, Networking, Personal, Social Media Marketing, Technology

Being a Community Manager isn’t what you might think…

You may have guessed that I’m somewhat of an internet addict, though my interest in all things www extends beyond your usual Facebook and Twitter fandom; instead I remain fascinated by the possibilities arising for individuals, organisations and businesses in seizing opportunities to network strategically, create targeted and sustainable campaigns and raise brand awareness.

One thing which I keep coming up against, however, is a confusion surrounding the concept of online community – and thus of community managing. In fact, even my own mother knows little of what this sector actually entails, which makes describing my internship to our friends and family rather a vague task.

So, Mum, hope this helps…

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Second Article Published by The Huffington Post

August 14, 2012 in Community Internship, Covering Letter Advice, Huffington Post, Intern Advice, Intern Guide, Intern Training, London Living

The Huffington Post have published a second article from – Thank you to everyone who continues to support the blog by reading, commenting and sharing.